Baroque according to Luc Tuymans on display at Fondazione Prada, with Caravaggio and Cagnacci, Cuoghi and Borremans

From Oct. 18, 2018 to Feb. 25, 2019, Fondazione Prada is hosting 'Sanguine - Luc Tuymans on Baroque,' a singular reading of the Baroque by Luc Tuymans.

From October 18, 2018, to February 25, 2019, Milan’s Fondazione Prada is hosting the exhibition Sanguine - Luc Tuymans on Baroque, a singular project that combines seventeenth-century art with contemporary art under the curatorship of one of the greatest artists on the current international scene, Luc Tuymans. Organized in collaboration with MHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp), KMSKA (Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp) and the City of Antwerp, the exhibition, after an initial presentation in the Belgian city from June and September 2018, is offered in a new and larger version in Milan. 80 works by 63 artists, including more than 25 presented exclusively at the Fondazione Prada, make up the itinerary of Sanguine, Luc Tuymans’ personal reading of the Baroque, consisting of novel juxtapositions and unexpected associations between works by contemporary artists and works by masters of the past .

Without following a strict chronological order or a strictly historiographical criterion, Tuymans wants to circumvent the traditional notion of the Baroque and invite a rereading of seventeenth-century as well as contemporary art, putting the figure of the artist and his role in society at its center. Following the lesson of Walter Benjamin, according to whom the Baroque marks the beginning of modernity, Tuymans investigates in this exhibition the search for authenticity, the political value of artistic representation, the disturbance induced by art, the exaltation of the author’s personality and the international dimension of artistic production, recognizing the Baroque as the privileged interlocutor of today’s art.

Sanguine wants to force the usual boundaries of the very notion of Baroque, extending its duration up to our present, and also to show how artists have contributed, over the past two centuries, to redefining it, from the negative meaning attributed by art critics of the late 18th century, to the revaluation implemented by post-modern thought and the reaffirmation of a Baroque and figurative expressiveness in the art of recent years. The very title of the exhibition seeks to suggest a multiplicity of perspectives through which one can interpret the works on display in which violence and simulation, cruelty and theatricalization, realism and exaggeration, disgust and wonder, terror and ecstasy coexist.

In Luc Tuymans’ vision, Caravaggio, featured in the exhibition with the Child Bitten by a Lizard (1595-96) and the David with the Head of Goliath (after 1606), thanks to the psychological realism expressed by his innovative pictorial language, is the first to surpass the classical and Mannerist tradition, embodying the spirit of the Baroque artist and the desire to communicate with the public through the f orce of representation. Comparison with Peter Paul Rubens, the Antwerp painter portraitist of the powerful and politician, reveals the formal ambiguity characteristic of Baroque painting and the complexity of the relationships that artists developed in the Europe of the Counter-Reformation and the rise of the merchant bourgeoisie.

Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Baroque art is the first artistic current to take on a worldwide dimension, while retaining specificities and characters linked to different local cultures and personal sensibilities witnessed in the exhibition by, among others, Guido Cagnacci and Andrea Vaccaro, Antoon van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens, Francisco de Zurbarán and Johann Georg Pinsel. Within our even more globalized and connected world, suggestions, dynamics and themes typical of Baroque art can be discerned in the works of far-flung contemporary authors brought together by Luc Tuymans in Sanguine. In the works on display, an idea of exhibited, decomposed and hyper-realistic corporality and physicality prevails, rendered through different means of expression: from painting to sculpture, from photography to drawing, from installation to video. Presented are works that have a strong visual and emotional impact on the visitor, such as Fucking Hell (2008) by Jake and Dinos Chapman, in which the grotesque aspect of terror is embodied by 60 thousand toy soldiers inside large storefronts practicing or suffering violence, or Nosferatu (The Undead) (2018), a video installation by Javier Téllez that explores the cinematic memory and condition of isolation of the mentally ill. On Kawara’s series of lithographs Thanatophanies (1955-95), depicting the deformed faces of the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs, expresses the human reaction to the horror of war, and in Sanguine foreshadows the severed head of the Goliath, to whom Caravaggio lent his face, and the bloodless child portrayed in Sleeper (2007-08) by Michaël Borremans. The macabre vulnerability of the victims seen in Peter Paul RubensLamentation Over the Dead Christ (1614) is also the central subject of Berlinde De Bruyckere ’s installation Flanders Fields (2000) and Marlene Dumas’ painting Dead Girl (2002). Fragility and monumentality coexist in the sculpture Il giorno mi pesa sulla notte I (1994), made of marble, gold, lead and glass by Luciano Fabro, and in the installation Room with Unfired Clay Figures (2011-15) by Mark Manders, as well as in the works of Cheikh Ndiaye and Diego Marcon.

The traits of excess and kitsch evident n the wooden sculptures made in 1758 by Johann Georg Pinsel can be traced in the exhibition in the works of artists such as Jacques-André Boiffard, Roberto Cuoghi, Kerry James Marshall, and Takashi Murakami. The beauty of form concealing dramatic or intimate content is explored in the works of John Armleder, Lili Dujourie, and Giuseppe Gabellone, but it is already evident in the sensuality of the dying Cleopatra by pint in the first half of the 1600s by Guido Cagnacci. The dynamism of the figures portrayed and the co-presence of comedy and tragedy in the same scene can be observed in both the canvas Triumph of David (1650) by Andrea Vaccaro and the painting When the Going is Smooth and Good (2017) by Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

The Sanguine exhibition, which takes place in the spaces of the Prada Foundation’s North Gallery, Podium and Cinema, is complemented by works by Nick Andrews, Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen, Fred Bervoets, Adriaen Brouwer, Pavel Büchler, Vaast Colson, Thierry De Cordier, Willem de Rooij, Cornelis de Vos, Zhang Enli, Marcel Gautherot, Isa Genzken, Joris Ghekiere, David Gheron Tretiakoff, Franciscus Gijsbrechts, Pierre Huyghe, Jonathan Johnson, Zlatko Kopljar, Dominik Lejman, Ives Maes, the Master of the Announcement to the Shepherds, Bruce Nauman, Nadia Naveau , Vanja Radauš, Tobias Rehberger, Alex Salinas, Yutaka Sone, Henri Storck, Pascal and Marthine Tayou, Paul Thek, Piotr Tolmachov, Luc Tuymans, Dennis Tyfus, Jan Van Imschoot, Jan Vercruysse, Michaelina Wautier, and Jack Whitten.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated volume that includes a foreword by the Presidents of the Miucci Foundation to Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, an introduction by Luc Tuymans, a conversation between Tuymans and the exhibition’s associate curator Mario Mainetti, and essays by scholars Ken Pratt, Lucia Simonato and Éric Suchère. For all information you can visit the Fondazione Prada website.

Pictured: Caravaggio, David with the Head of Goliath and Berlinde De Bruyckere, In Flanders Fields

Baroque according to Luc Tuymans on display at Fondazione Prada, with Caravaggio and Cagnacci, Cuoghi and Borremans
Baroque according to Luc Tuymans on display at Fondazione Prada, with Caravaggio and Cagnacci, Cuoghi and Borremans

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